Director-General

WHO Director-General's speech at the summit on measurement and accountability for results in health

Dr Margaret Chan
Director-General of the World Health Organization

Measurement and Accountability for Results in Health Summit
Washington, DC, USA

9 June 2015

Excellencies, colleagues in public health, ladies and gentlemen,

Thank to all the global health leaders and all the people behind the scenes that have contributed to this meeting.

I have one hidden agenda. Data is a very important and complex subject. Information is power. In this day and age where transparency is such a big commodity, there is no other option but to have transparency and accountability. We must have good data systems.

Accountability means counting. What gets measured gets done.

The dilemma facing health as we move into the post-2015 development agenda is straightforward. The emphasis on transparency, accountability, and measureable results is increasing every day.

But measurement and accountability depend on data that simply do not exist in the countries we are serving.

Over 100 countries, representing more than two-thirds of the world’s population, do not have systems for civil registration and vital statistics that produce reliable data on causes of death.

Without these data, countries and their development partners are working in the dark, throwing money into a black hole.

We have no choice. We have to change the way we do business. Are we prepared to integrate all the various silos, collecting info on HIV, maternal health, and so on? The solution is to bring them together in an integrated manner. Our investment has always been in silos. Let's work together so that we are helping countries instead of giving them additional burden.

A health system needs reliable information to be responsive as well as efficient. All health systems have sources of waste. But without reliable information to set priorities, adjust strategies, and measure results, that waste increases substantially.

Every political leader wants to be re-elected. In order to show results and performance, you must demonstrate results. It's as simple as that.

The US Government has always been a staunch supporter of investing in health information. Can we come together? We must do that, there is no other option. I hope we can come out of the Summit implementing the Roadmap and Five-Point Call to Action.

Let's make this summit a turning point. We are moving away from a time when investments in information systems were ad hoc and fragmented, with unsustainable pilots, stand-alone surveys, and one-off impact evaluations.

We are moving towards a time of shared approaches that align with country priorities and make smart investments in sustainable ways.

We are moving away from a scattered ad-hoc approach to a systematic and rational one anchored in strong country plans, with aligned investments and inclusive accountability mechanisms to measure them, and monitored by time-bound targets for performance.

We are moving away from a time that largely concentrated on the delivery of commodities to a time focused on the building of capacities in health systems.

This is a time to develop self-reliance and self-sufficiency as the best exit strategy for development assistance. This is a time when countries expect a hand up, not a hand-out. Countries need capacity, not charity.

We are facing our best chance ever for change, in fact, for transformational change.

The five-point action plan and the roadmap give us cause for optimism. Let's go forward as we move towards the UNGAs in NY when countries come together to agree on the agenda for the sustainable development.

We need to move to real-time reporting.

Why don't we use the power of ICT?

Full recognition is given to the importance of measuring progress towards universal health coverage. UHC serves the new health goal well as a unifying concept, with links to targets set for social, economic, and environmental determinants of health.

The roadmap also is important in promoting the disaggregation of data to better capture the impact of investments on marginalized and hard-to-reach populations.

Friends and colleagues, before you leave this Summit, I would like to appeal to you. Let's commit ourselves to the Five Point Call to Action and Roadmap. Can you do that? Yes we can.

Thank you.